How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Paint Rock 35764
Picking the right dental assistant school near Paint Rock AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Paint Rock dental practice and can perform a multitude of functions. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Paint Rock dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Paint Rock area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a great alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Paint Rock home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental online college is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Paint Rock area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Paint Rock area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most Paint Rock area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Paint Rock area dental programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Paint Rock dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35764 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Paint Rock at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Dental School near Paint Rock ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.